Taking a tenant to court or being taken to court by a tenant can be a very stressful situation. You can alleviate that stress a little bit by taking the proper steps from the very beginning, in fact, if you’re meticulous enough, you might even be able to avoid court all together. The key is keeping records. Make note of everything associated with your property and tenants and keep these notes as long as possible. If you do go to court you will need this information to back up your point of view and to prove that you are correct. But you may be able to skip court by giving your tenant copies of your information and showing them that they are incorrect and letting them know you will be prepared for legal action. If you can, bolster your written records with photographic evidence, video tapes and eye witnesses whenever possible.
Two areas that cause the most litigation in landlord tenant situations are security deposits and maintenance issues. Both of these situations lend themselves nicely to documentation. Keep track of your maintenance records, keep receipts, and take photos when possible to demonstrate before and after repairs. Similarly, with pre and post move-in inspections, take photographic and video proof of the unit’s condition and have the tenant sign a condition report. By keeping thorough records you’ll stand a much better chance of being victorious in any legal action and you’ll at least have some confidence going into the courtroom.